Tuesday, November 4, 2014

It’s Aunt Lil’s Birthday today--Happy Birthday! By CB Kinsella and Kathryn Barron

Today we have an embarrassment of riches—stories about Lily Rosena Baker Howland from both Aunt CB (niece of Aunt Lil) and Aunt Lil’s grand daughter, Kathryn Wood Barron.

Kathryn starts us off:

"I used to ride to Marathon every week with Grandma to go grocery shopping. I was a teen and she was in her 70’s. She would drive down from the farm and pick me up and we went the back ways. First we went towards Lisle on the main road, Rte.79. We turned onto Owen Hill Road and went on that till we got on Killawog Hill Road . That took us through Killawog and into the back part of Marathon, not far from the IGA. Ah, the scenic route. Beautiful hills with amazing panoramic views looking down, at times, at the Tioughnioga River. Lots and lots of farms. Yup. Beautiful. Tractors were on the road regularly hauling hay wagons or even the fragrant “honey wagons”. Sigh.

Aunt Lil, 1970

My life often flashed before my eyes on these trips. My Grandma was not the sweet little old lady who drove at a crawl. She drove like a bat out of . . . . Well, you know where. I think her right foot was made of lead - or something heavier. We would barrel down those not very wide roads and sweep up on a tractor and zoom around it. When the tractors were coming towards us, she did pull over as far to the right as she could. I was amazed we did not go into ditches and over the hills into that view I described earlier. I am proud of the fact that I never cringed. I just held on to the door handle with white knuckles. Good times. 
To be fair, this was good training for me. My Mom got her license a year or so later. Her driving was quite similar to her Mother’s. I did a lot of praying in the car!"

Another story from Kathryn:
"When I was in about 4th grade, Chic and I missed the bus for School. It was because we needed lunch money and getting it from the parents was not that easy at that time of day. We lived on the farm. They told us to walk down to Center Lisle and catch the bus at the bottom of the hill. So, we started walking. There is one area on the way that has a patch of trees on one side of the road and from there you could see Mt. Hunger Road - where our bus would come down. 

Chic had us sit and watch for the bus so we could miss it a second time. 

After it went, we just walked the rest of the way to Grandma’s store and let her know that we missed the bus. She was a sweetie and decided to take us to school. After she made us breakfast. And gave us lunch money. When she made breakfast it was a joy to behold. If she had meat in the cooler that was close to going bad, but still good, she cooked it up. There was home fries. Eggs. Toast. Jelly. I had milk. She usually had cookies on hand. Yum!

Oh, I probably should let you know that we (conveniently) missed the bus that went through Center Lisle. Also, Chic did some messing around with Grandma’s car so it only made it to the Lisle bridge. Tom Sessions had to come and fix it - but first he took me to school. Chic skipped. He did give me extra money for ice cream. I often wondered if Grandma ever realized what he did."

Aunt CB writes:

"Happy Birthday, Lilypickle!

I think it was your youngest daughter, Gladys, who gave you that name, but we all used it eventually. Just as we all called your bulging purse, Fort Knox (your term). That purse never failed to pour forth kleenex, bandaids, lifesavers, toothpaste and pennies, as needed.

My Aunt Lil was one of a kind! When you misbehaved she’d scold you, but almost immediately grab you and say “Never mind, have a Popsicle.” Most of our earliest memories of her are from the store. That’s where she served those fabulous breakfasts and even let us drink coffee (heavily laced with evaporated milk!). When it came time for us to leave, after a visit, she’d give each of us a small paper bag and allow us a small handful of penny candy to carry home (the derivation of Harold’s penny candy counter in his gas station in later years).

Uncle Elmer, Aunt Lil and Phyllis McFall in store

She was my mother’s little sister and they were as different as chalk and cheese, yet both shared a singular trait, (inherited from their father, I think), they loved people! They were ‘listeners’ and attracted many friends.

Lil’s store was a country store in a small community. It carried all the basics—bread, milk, meat, pop—but also overalls and other clothing, cooking utensils, milk pails, boots, personal needs and a full supply of animal medications as complete as ones for humans. I know it’s been mentioned in the blog before. This store originally was the first church building in town, then a house, then a garage, then her store. When Lil retired, she made sure it eventually was returned to the church next door, asking $1.00 for it. Today the land it stood upon serves as their parking lot.

One lasting memory that has always been common to all the descendants of Ethel and Lil is that of glimpsing the two sisters, side by side on a bed, ‘resting’, their mouths going 90 miles an hour with family gossip. We ALL loved to be in on that and just listen!

Sisters, Aunt Lil and Ethel


Pat said...

Great stories! Thank you so much for sharing these. Happy Birthday,Aunt Lil!


Kathryn said...

I did not realize till today that Grandma's birthday fell on election day this year! She sat on the election board every year. I loved to go down to the Odd Fellow's Hall and visit her on election day. So, I just celebrated her birthday by voting.
Grandma would be proud.

Laurel Decker said...

Wonderful stories, nicely done, thank you. Happy Birthday Grandma!

Susan Kinsella said...

Great stories, thank you Mom and Kathryn! I especially loved the way that Kathryn told her stories - stopping and then off-handedly dropping in the next phrase that changed the direction you were sure the story had been going. I could see that bat out of *@)&(* barreling down the country roads, swerving around tractors, with a sweet little old lady at the wheel, just on her way to do her grocery shopping. And I could see those two kids sitting up on the hill breathing a sigh of relief when they saw their school bus go by down below. Left me laughing! Thanks again, and great job, both of you!

Tom K. said...

Happy birthday, Aunt Lil.